Marc's Mailbag

Marc Sessler is a writer for's Around the League blog and each Friday he will answer your NFL questions, right up until the Super Bowl.

What are the main things the losing teams from last weekend need to do to be Super Bowl-ready next season? - Darren Sean Murphy

Good question. Let's go one by one:

Houston Texans: Matt Schaub lacks play-makers. This offense is so run-oriented, but it's turned Schaub into a system quarterback of sorts. He relies heavily on play-action passes -- and he excels at this – but Houston must find a viable receiver across from Andre Johnson.

Denver Broncos: How about some help at cornerback? Champ Bailey was shredded by Ravens wideout Torrey Smith last week. Bailey's been an ageless wonder for Denver, but this team can't sit still on defense. More talent is needed.

Green Bay Packers: I'm not excited about elements of this team. The defense was a disaster in key moments. The Packers struggle to rush the passer and help is needed stopping the run. Adrian Peterson slashed Green Bay for 500 yards in three games this season and we all saw what Colin Kaepernick did on the ground last weekend. The Packers also could use a legitimate running back.

Seattle Seahawks: What an exciting young team. I think Seattle needs another reliable wideout to help Russell Wilson grow in the passing game. The defense also could use more pass rushers, but this isn't a club with a ton of weaknesses.

What's the most absurd story leading up to the championship games? - Trevor Hunt

There are always a few items vying for this award, but I enjoyed a piece's Gregg Rosenthal posted Thursday about Boston mayor Tom Menino.

A little background: Menino has a dubious history of publicly botching the names of major athletes. As Rosenthal pointed out, he's previously referenced "Wes Wekler" and "Varitek splitting the uprights." (He meant to say Adam Vinatieri. Good heavens.)

This week, Menino outdid himself, calling Vince Wilfork noneother than Vince "Wilcock," before uttering the following: "(Tight end Aaron) Hernandez is going to do a great job stepping in for Gonk, because Gonk is hurt."

Rob Gronkowski is hurt. We have no idea as to the physical state of Gonk.

Reminder: This gentleman runs a major U.S. city.

Can the Ravens shut down the Patriots' offense? They did it to Denver last week. - Patrick

Baltimore's defense isn't what it once was, but I love what they accomplished in the double-overtime win over the Broncos. The Ravens dropped All-Pro safety Ed Reed deep into coverage for almost the entire game. It took away the long ball and forced Peyton Manning to throw short, precision passes.

Denver couldn't strike deep, and coach John Fox took plenty of heat afterwards for his perceived conservative approach to a high-stakes affair. That plan won't be so successful  Sunday against the Patriots.

New England's offense is well-constructed to use short and intermediate spaces to pick apart a defense. Tom Brady's near-psychic connection with Wes Welker doesn't hurt. "He can do it all," Ravens cornerback Corey Graham said of Welker this week.

New England's up-tempo offense led the NFL with 1,191 plays from scrimmage, which equates to 74.4 per game. Patriots teams of old struggled to run the football in a dominating way, but this year's team finished second in the NFL with 523 attempts for 2,184 yards and 25 touchdowns. The ground game is just one facet of a Patriots offense that's evolved and changed since falling to Baltimore back in Week 3.

Baltimore must find a way to disrupt New England's rhythm, take away the ground game and put Tom Brady into unfavorable third-down situations. As always against the Patriots, that's easier said than done.

Can Chip Kelly make his offense work in Philadelphia? I have my doubts. - Orin G.

In a word: Yes. So much of what Kelly did at Oregon is already happening in the league. This is an inventive, flexible strategist who's proven he can get the most out of his roster.

I love Kelly's flexibility. There are plenty of old-school coaches who want to take a team and force them into a scheme that might not fit the personnel. This almost never works. What Kelly brings -- and it's rarer than you'd think -- is a willingness to change.

I also felt that during Kelly's introductory press conference Thursday, he made a point to talk about the importance of people. The core belief that none of what he does will matter without the right people in place. Sounds trite, perhaps, but I believe he will bring exciting leadership to a team desperately in need of exactly that.

Ok, friends, enjoy the games this weekend.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.